Monday, November 21, 2005

Fumito Ueda Has Fallen Into Shadow

First. I now vicariously know how the cat feels around my feet. Like I feel around The Colossi, that's how. This game (check out the footage) is all killer, a true destroyer. Like Conan The Barbarian crossed with the ferry scene in The Ring. Brilliant. We got half-way through. R1 for ever. Second. How about them Leafs, unfans? Better than the Gorillaz, is what they are. But music vs hockey isn't a fair fight. Most times. Sometimes. Leaf-wise, anyway. Third. Octabulist: tells tall stories eight different ways. Fourth. New guy at work, random conversation-ing (you get no context—none needed), "It's like a rap-battle" and "Don't make the cowboys angry". He's gold, he just doesn't know it yet. Fifth. Broken Social Scene, I wasn't there, but everyone else was (seriously—EVERYONE), including, apparently, her. Check her back for more goods, she's got some Shout video, too (bottom of the post) [Edit: Also, she was there, and le google brings up this enthusiastic local.] And, yeah, I know it was the biggest indie show of the year around here, and, yes, very possibly BSS' last album/tour, and, yes, I am now unworthy of wearing corduroy. Denim from here on in. Sixth. Is school killing you? School is killing me. The novel is killing me more, though. Oh, way more. Seventh. Word is, the last word in the Old Testament is a curse. Harsh, harsh, harsh. This post won't be like that. Eighth. The end. The end, dammit. Whoops. Dammit.

Listening: Monday, of course, and that means most of the music blogs have new stuff up, new songs, new links, new commentary. But not this page. Not that I'm a music blog per se (most of my sidebar tracks back to the decidedly bookish, obviously), but I like to think about le musique, you know? Very uplifting. Ish. Nevermind the newest stuff, then. Last week, STG posted a wonderful song I'm still working through, a rough and glittery gem (you've seen those nearly uncut stones in the crowns of the old French kings?) by a band called Hi Lo Trons. This song is like the staff at the local gas station who started singing ABBA one frosty morning, but they only had rough scratchy instruments for the musical bits. Their voices, however, are very good—not unlike the audio equivalent of a tightly-wound Cezanne. This is ridiculous. I'm scrabbling around here, trying to make words out of vowels and awkward consonants like X and Q (but not U). There is no describing this song. The song is good. Listen to it. "Look, Wow" + Hi Lo Trons

Reading: He's got an omelette named after him at The Savoy! Flaked fish and eggs! He was first published in the fin-de-siecle but didn't achieve wide-spread success until around 1908. He was a lot like an Edwardian version of David Lodge, in that he was a well-respected and successful writer whose chief strength (among many) was analyzing other author's books. Like Lodge's often under-rated The Art Of Fiction—which has got to be one of the best analyses of literary construction in the English language—this authors' critiques were often gathered into broadly-themed collections and sold as this book or that. Like Lodge, the man writes so well that the most complex or difficult-to-relate concept becomes simple and easily apprehended. And, like Lodge, though he sits around with the virtuous stars of literature—there's a good story of how he, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, J.M. Barrie, George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy were sitting around a single candle, trying to avoid the zeppelin bombings—he had little patience with the vices that often parallel such company, such as elitist symbolism, rarified vocabulary and/or needlessly complex narratives. His novels were condemned by Virginia Woolf for a lack of realistic characterization, which is odd because his novels, especially his earlier novels such as Anna Of The Five Towns, were clear cases of classic realism populated with strongly individual voices. I was skimming a collection of his newspaper articles the other day and was taken with the final section of the book, "'Fiction' And 'Literature'":

But Messrs. Hutchinson, who are evidently rather proud of having secured Lucas Malet's new long novel, have thought of a new adjective, and the event must be chronicled. They are announcing that Lucas Malet's new novel is "literary"—"the literary novel of the autumn."

Our man is against this new distinction. He sees the art novel over there, like a textual version of the art furniture in Tottenham Court Road, and he sees the regular library novel over there, often passed over as merely an amorphous blob and labelled fiction. The newly-termed literary novel, he thinks, is hinting that it "combines the superior attributes of both" kinds of fiction, and is, in effect, subverting both labels by setting itself up as a superior brand of fiction. Speaking for himself, our man is fed up with these holier-than-thou distinctions.

Personally, I would not permit my publishers to advertise a novel of mine as literary. but on the whole I wouldn't seriously object to the adjective "un-literary."

That's the kind of guy I like. An author who can accept useful distinctions between various kinds of literature, but will not accept a label which raises itself up by denigrating other kinds and classes of text. Oh, he must have been gall to much of the academic world. Books And Persons + Arnold Bennett

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